App for Eye Witnesses to Atrocities

Maritime Executive

The charity Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) has made it possible for people who witness crimes and abuse at sea to use the eyeWitness to Atrocities App to capture evidence.

Developed by the International Bar Association (IBA), the App, through its unique capabilities, enables Android smartphones and tablets to be used to document crimes – such as murder, armed robbery, human trafficking, piracy and drug smuggling – in a way that is admissible as evidence in a court of law.

The App is an easy-to-use camera app that collects and embeds, in the images taken by a user, GPS coordinates, date and time, device sensor data, and surrounding objects such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks. The collection of this metadata provides verification and context and is encrypted and securely stored within the app together with the images.

The user may then upload the footage directly to a secure storage facility, hosted by LexisNexis and maintained solely by the eyeWitness organisation. In doing so, a chain of custody record verifies that the footage has not been edited or digitally manipulated. Thus, the images attain a level of authentication which allows for their use in investigations or trials.

David Hammond, CEO of HRAS, said “This is another maritime first using the power of technology in order to assist in evidential gathering of potential or actual human rights abuse incidents which ordinarily would occur out of sight and out of mind at sea. Up to this point such evidence has often been hidden from the investigatory efforts of our charity that wishes to identify and address such abuses that would otherwise go unreported within the maritime environment. Today, the ability of those individuals or entities who wish to cover up or ignore abuse has been deal a significant blow.”


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Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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